No one in the sky: The ideology of Fireworks

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Fireworks may just be the most underrated band in the scene. Not a whole lot is said about them, but they tour relentlessly. Two years ago, fresh off the heels of their amazing album Gospel (the only album able to go toe to toe with The Wonder Years Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing), I saw them play the smallest stage on Warped Tour.

They’re a relentless band that is at a constant battle within: Don’t rely on religion to be the best you can be; you’re capable of being great.

Fireworks are one of the most positive bands writing today and one of the forefathers of the new generation of pop punk; matured lyrics, incredibly catchy melodies and loud guitars. They’re not afraid of quieter music as well, playing as much of the New Found Glory-esque spastic punk as they do the quiet shade of Saves the Day. It’s a beautiful sound that can either rip through your speakers or act as the soundtrack of the evening darkness.

One of their most powerful assets though, is their presentation. Lyrically, they’re nostalgic, mystical and relentlessly optimistic. The self-awareness of their records is something that most of their peers lack, and draws up battle lines within their records.

As much of a force for positive thinking as they can be, there is an adamant war cry against fundamental religion in their music. Anti-religious music isn’t anything new by any means; AFI is known for it. The difference with Fireworks is that they aren’t writing angrily. They’re fighting to show that you don’t need to rely on religion to be guided into being a good person.

“I Locked My Time Capsule” has one of the most memorable choruses that illustrates what the band tries to preach: “Just do what you can to do what you love / And be mindful when someone out there gives a shit / I don’t know where I’m going, but it’s where I want to be”.

The optimism of making yourself happy is often at the forefront of their lyrics, but what’s interesting is that it’s constantly emphasized that you’re capable of it. There are hidden sniper shots at religion throughout their records, attempting to tear away reliance on a higher being to do the work for you. In the same song, singer David Mackinder shouts, “My nativity scene would be the people shaking this floor”.

It’s a unique route to relate the positive messages found in pop punk these days. While the overall tone is usually for good, if not looking back on memories, good and bad, the mention of religion is usually a short jab. The song “I Support Same Sex Marriage” is perhaps one of the most damning, the title intended to cause the first strike.

Lines like “When you spend all your time with your eyes to the sky, you end up looking down your nose just to look me in the eye”, and “When you open that book you close your mind, so trust yourself and no one else” are incredibly self-aware for being on a band’s debut LP. But even this early on in their career, their message is clear.

Despite the intended venom towards this type of ideology, the band maintains the positive thinking needed to live successfully, rather than rely on religion. Oh, Common Life is a brutal look at finding yourself as an adult and the harsh world you were never quite ready for; finding yourself on the other side of a parents’ death and lost loves married to someone else.

Amongst the depressing imagery though, there are lines like, “I’m the greatest book read to the end / In those last lines you’ll find my friends like flies on tape, I keep them close / We may look dead but move our soul” from “Run, Brother, Run”.

Fireworks helped forge the new wave of pop punk with the brutal honesty that comes with picking fights with ideology. It’s an edge that stands apart from bands that just write angry punk songs against religion, in that it’s meant to unapologetically encourage anyone listening. It’s a powerful idea that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Regardless of your beliefs, Fireworks message is something that is needed more in the scene.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

New Found Glory to release album this fall as a four-piece

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The four remaining members of New Found Glory were recently interviewed by Billboard. According to the band, they will release a new album this fall as a four-piece and have no plans of replacing guitarist Steve Klein following his recent departure. Below is a quote from Chad Gilbert:

“There was never any thought, nor will there be any thought or consideration to ever have a fifth member. It’s always going to be the four of us. As far as live, we’re figuring it out, but we like it better than having an extra person. It’s definitely easier to worry about us four than trying to find someone.”

What are your thoughts on the news? Excited for the new album? Still bummed about Klein? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: City Lights – The Way Things Should Be

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City Lights are exactly what I needed to hear. Their newest release, The Way Things Should Be, is a love letter to classic pop punk that integrates new-school styles flawlessly. They manage to nail twelve amazing punk songs that never feel like retreads of the same song and prove the band’s prowess for writing beautiful melodic punk. This record fits absolutely perfectly against the biggest albums of the genre from the golden age of pop punk from 2001-2003.

However, it is this sense of style that is the album’s most endearing aspect, as well as its biggest hindrance.

City Lights are a five piece from Columbus, Ohio, that play perfectly into the pop punk and hardcore scene. Their sophomore LP, The Way Things Should Be is a success for the group that doesn’t stray too far from their past releases, but perfects the sound. What results is an amazing collection of songs that deliver a relentless wall of melodic guitar, honey dipped into the hardcore genre.

Each song is one memorable guitar riff after another, dressing down the harder break downs that occasionally appear (“Promises”). The drumming keeps pace frantically and offers some impressive pedalling. As I listened to The Way Things Should Be, each song on the album sounded like it could be a single and constantly kept reminding me of New Found Glory’s legendary self-titled album.

That though, is my biggest complaint against the record: It sounds like it is ten years too late to the game. If you placed The Way Things Should Be against anything from MXPX, New Found Glory or Alkaline Trio circa 2001, it would sound like one of the albums of the year that fans would still be singing along to today in their thirties… or whatever.

While that is the best compliment I can give the album, it’s also the biggest slight against it. This is extremely well tread territory and nothing here sounds extraordinarily new. There is very little experimentation towards a unique sound for the band. If anything, it feels like something that has always been around in your CD collection. It’s not terrible, it just doesn’t make the album stand out as much as it could.

Lyrically, the album is light years beyond many of their contemporaries in the genre. Each song belts out anthems of lost loves, betrayal of close friends and commentary on the scene at large. For a pop punk record, it might be one of the darkest, in that it tends to dig deep and fight back. In “Jeremy’s Song”, singer Oshie Bichar lashes out, “Why is it that the closest of friends / Sometimes are first to lose faith / And the first to betray / Think twice before you talk down to me / I’ll make you sorry you ever did”.

However, for as dark as the lyrics can get, they’re balanced out by the hopeful dreaming and call to believe in yourself that we’ve come to expect from the pop punk genre of late. The album also never really takes itself too seriously. During “The Dark Side”, Bichar sings out various phrases from the Star Wars saga (“You were supposed to be the chosen one!”). Although Bichar belts out a powerful performance with his singing, he can find the growl and screaming of the hardcore genre to punch up a few notes when it’s necessary. This aspect is sparsely used and really adds the power to a song when it is.

The Way Things Should Be is poised to be one of the memorable albums in the pop punk scene and hopefully helps to spearhead City Lights much, much further into their careers. This is a sound that is both tragically nostalgic and impressively cohesive and strong. If you’ve been itching for an album to take you back to the highlight of the pop punk genre, this is what you’ve been waiting for. Though it feels like it was released in the wrong decade, it’s unrelentingly powerful and unapologetic. The Way Things Should Be is here to stay.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

New Found Glory drops guitarist Steve Klein

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New Found Glory announced last night that rhythm guitarist Steve Klein has left the band. Klein (pictured above in the baseball cap) was one of the founding members of the group and the lead lyricist. Although not addressed directly, it appears that Klein’s departure was not an amicable one. As one of the prominent members of the band, both in its founding and in the songwriting, he will be a tough seat to replace. The remaining members of the band posted the following statement on their Facebook:

“To All Our Fans,

It is with heavy hearts that we must let you know that Steve Klein is no longer a part of New Found Glory. We’ve had our differences with Steve over the years that have led us to this decision. We love Steve however personal differences have guided this decision and we no longer feel we can work with him. Rest assured that New Found Glory will still go on! After the Parahoy Cruise we are planning to write a new record and start this new chapter for our band. We have not decided on who will fill Steve’s position however we will let you know our plans as soon as we figure that out. We love you, our fans, so much and appreciate your dedication and loyalty to our band. We hope you stick by us during this difficult time.

We love you,

Chad, Jordan, Cyrus, and Ian”

New Found Glory release “Nothing for Christmas” lyric video

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New Found Glory has released a lyric video for their song of “Nothing for Christmas”. You can check out the video below:

The song was included on Fearless Records’ recent release, Punk Goes Christmas. If you’re in the mood for some holiday tunes, you can buy the compilation on iTunes.